New York secretary of state gets first-hand look at Middletown rebirth

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Mayor Joseph DeStefano and New York Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez tour downtown Middletown

MIDDLETOWN – New York Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez came to Middletown Monday to detail the state’s recently approved $221 billion budget, and the spending plan includes $450 million for Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) projects.

Middletown was the first city in the Mid-Hudson to receive a $10 million DRI grant.

“We found that it’s critically important to get people back into their downtowns,” said Rodriguez. “Over time and suburbanization, they have been neglected.  Just a little bit of investment can change the way people view them and allow to come back to them in a meaningful way and continue to anchor many of our upstate towns.”

 Rodriguez said municipalities typically receive $10 million each to help their downtowns return for the possibility of prosperity. 

“It makes a huge difference in attracting additional dollars. In this budget, we have been able to put more resources for that for many of the small towns and villages are also able to get the same kind of revitalization and prepare them for bigger investments,” he said.

 The City of Middletown has used DRI money for parking and pavilions, and Mayor James DeStefano toured some of those projects and local businesses with Rodriguez.

“The DRI worked exactly as state government said it would,” said DeStefano. “We spent about $10 million of DRI money, but we also leveraged that with some local funds and other grant funds, and we’ve had a tremendous impact, both from facades to green infrastructure parking improvements.”

The DRI has led to about 30 property transfers in the downtown and a final sidewalk program is finishing up. DeStefano said millions of dollars are now being invested in downtown and that money will again be sought for amenities such as parking garages.